HPP wins planning appeal for a new research and development building and additional houses on the edge of Wallingford.
On behalf of CABI International and Cala Management Ltd, HPP provided expert evidence at a public Inquiry for a 3500 sq metres headquaters building and 91 homes resulting in a successful outcome with the appeal being allowed. The main issues related to:
- Level of affordable housing
- Impact on AONB
- Effect on heritage assets
The appeal was made against the decision of South Oxfordshire District Council following their refusal to grant planning permission.
CABI is a non-for-profit organisation, which provides information and undertakes scientific research in connection with addressing problems in agriculture and the environment; both in the UK and throughout the world. Whilst CABI has offices in many countries all over the world, its headquarters is located on the site and is a significant employer locally. The existing headquaters are however unsuitable and no longer fit for purpose and all parties agreed that there was a need for their replacement. The proposed housing was necessary to fund the much needed replacement headquarters building. In relation to the proposed reduced level of affordable housing (20%), the Inspector found this to be acceptable following the submission of evidence regarding viability.
As the proposal represented major development within the AONB, paragraph 116 of the NPPF was explored. The Inspector found that, although the proposal would cause harm to the AONB, in this case exceptional circumstances could be demonstrated which outweighed this harm, i.e. the need for the development and the lack of alternative sites.
In relation to sustainability, whilst the subject site is located outside and some distance from the development boundary for Wallingford, the Inspector agreed with HPP that the scheme met the environmental, social and economic role and thus met the three dimensions of sustainable development.
A Scheduled Monument crosses the site, however the Inspector concluded that there would be no loss of significance to the setting of this heritage asset.
The Inspector agreed that the benefits offered by the scheme are considerable; the provision of a new headquarters for CABI, along with the advantages that would flow to both the national and local economy, and the provision of market and affordable housing in an accessible location where there is a serious deficit of both. The Inspector concluded that these benefits would outweigh any negative impacts.
For a copy of the appeal decision, please see below.